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Justice is Interventionist: The Political Sources of the Judicial Reach of the Special Court for Sierra Leone

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The Special Court for Sierra Leone’s conviction of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and its prosecution of perpetrators regardless of their political alignment have been hailed as milestones in the diffusion of international criminal justice norms. Yet what made these achievements possible were interventionist strategies by Western governments and international and regional institutions to defeat the rebellion in Sierra Leone and bring about regime change in Liberia. The broader lesson that should be drawn from this is that the prospects for prosecution in the aftermath of armed conflict are likely to be determined by the political strategies adopted by the international community to end the violence and that international criminal justice presumes an interventionist form of politics.

Affiliations: 1: Colby College, Waterville, ME, USA


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